Synthetic Marijuana

Marketed as a “legal high,” use of synthetic cannabinoids, or “synthetic marijuana” can cause dangerous health effects including psychotic episodes and seizures.

545 Exposures

Jan. 1, 2014, to March 31, 2014

With names like Spice, K2, No More Mr. Nice Guy, and hundreds of others, the drugs often called “synthetic marijuana” are – in reality – very different from marijuana. They contain powerful chemicals called cannabimimetics and can cause dangerous health effects. The drugs are made specifi cally to be abused. Like many other illegal drugs, synthetic marijuana is not tested for safety, and users don’t really know exactly what chemicals they are putting into their bodies.

These synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive. Health effects from the drug can be life-threatening and can include:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety.
  • Fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors.
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.

Poison center experts – as well as many federal, state, and local government officials – have called synthetic drug use a risk to the public’s health and a hazard to public safety.

The harmful effects from these products were first reported in the U.S. in 2009. Since then, the drugs have spread throughout the country. Poison centers received 5,230 calls about exposures to these drugs in 2012 and 2,6563 exposures in 2013. (Click here for the most recent data.)

What should you do if someone has used synthetic marijuana?

Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Fifty-six poison centers around the country have experts waiting to answer your call. These experts can help you decide whether someone can be treated at home, or whether he or she must go to a hospital.

Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone: 

  • Stops breathing. 
  • Collapses. 
  • Has a seizure.

For more information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.

Synthetic Marijuana Exposures - 2013-2014

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Poison centers offer free, private, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach your local poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222.

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